Football: Everton cruise to victory despite Rooney penalty miss

Rooney (centre) celebrates with team mates after the match.
Rooney (centre) celebrates with team mates after the match.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Wayne Rooney’s penalty miss mattered little as Everton continued their fine home form as they earned a 2-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League on Saturday (March 10).

The hosts dominated in the first half but couldn’t find a way past a Brighton side who travelled to Goodison Park on the back of three wins in their last four games in all competitions.

However, two goals in the second half saw the hosts home. Gaetan Bong put through his own net on the hour mark, before January signing Cenk Tosun smashed into the net in the 76th minute and Rooney could even afford to miss his penalty.

Brighton, who had Anthony Knockaert sent off for a dangerous tackle, dropped to 11th after a first defeat in eight in all competitions, now below Everton, whose ninth Premier League home win of the season lifted them to ninth.

“Our big problem has been away from home. If you reverse it (home and away form) and look with the home points we’ve gained we’re riding high in the top six,” Everton manager Sam Allardyce said.

Rooney was one of four changes for Everton from the defeat at Burnley last weekend and helped the hosts threaten early on.

Allardyce’s side had eight shots at goal in the opening period, but couldn’t create enough clear-cut chances. A Yannick Bolasie header was as close as they came to an opener.

“We restricted them to minimal chances going into halftime. Once the first goal goes in it lifts the crowd here and it becomes very difficult,” Brighton manager Chris Hughton said.

The action intensified after the interval, and the hosts were soon in front, as Bolasie’s deep cross was diverted home, inadvertently, by Bong.

Tosun’s second since his big-money arrival from Turkish side Besiktas – a fine finish off the underside of the crossbar – put Everton in command, before their task was made easier after Knockaert was dismissed for a needless lunge.

Rooney was gifted the opportunity to put the icing on the cake from the spot after Dominic Calvert-Lewin was adjudged to have been fouled in the penalty area.

However, Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan was equal to Rooney’s strike from 12 yards.

That reprieve could not galvanise Brighton, as Everton leapfrogged their opponents with another home success.